Video: Celebrating ability with dancers using wheelchairs and prosthetics

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Michigan is observing National Rehabilitation Awareness Week with ‘Miracles in Motion,’ highlighting some exceptional patients and staff.

Miracles in Motion video

Dance, in its many forms, expresses joy in motion.

To celebrate National Rehabilitation Awareness Week (Sept. 16–20), Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Michigan created “Miracles in Motion,” a video highlighting the dancing abilities of individuals with limited or no use of their legs.

The video, created in-house, features patients and hospital staff—individuals young and old alike—showcasing their unique abilities.

Chris Mills, media and external relations specialist, says the idea originated from Mary Free Bed’s desire to make a highly shareable video for the annual observance.

After searching the web, communicators came across the work of Marisa Hamamoto, who specializes in choreographing those with different abilities. Hamamoto founded Infinite Flow, a dance company dedicated to eliminating “the stigma and inequality associated with disability.”

Production

After CEO Kent Riddle enthusiastically approved the project, the team reached out to Hamamoto, who agreed to a reduced rate to work with the hospital. Hamamoto spent a week at the Grand Rapids facility, choreographing and shooting the final product.

Mary Free Bed used in-house talent to create and edit the video, Mills says. The performers are patients and staff at the hospital or at the junior wheelchair sports camp it hosts.

Some staff had dancing backgrounds, and some did not, Mills says. Mary Free Bed invited employees to appear in the video based on dancing background and availability. None of the patients had prior dance experience.

The hospital paid a small amount to license the music, “Take My Hand” by Secret Nation.

Mills says the video has cost around $10,000 to produce and promote so far, including choreographer’s fees, travel and lodging, music rights, rental equipment, a small social media promotional budget and payment to a contract employee who worked on the project.

Reception

Though early in its run, the campaign has gained the attention of local journalists. Mary Free Bed plans to complement its organic social media success with paid promotion. The hospital has shared the video on Facebook and YouTube, so far garnering more than 90,000 total views.

Jane Brierley, vice president for external relations at Mary Free Bed, says:

We’re over-the-moon excited about how Miracles in Motion is being received. We sent the video to the schools the kids attend, hoping they attain rock star status. Our dancing staff members are enjoying accolades from colleagues and patients alike. But most of all, we’re thrilled people with disabilities are being showered with love and admiration.

PR professional Alison Carville, a wheelchair user, points out the use of special equipment:

As a communicator, this video makes the audience “feel good and inspired,” perceiving kids and doctors as upbeat in rehab, which is perceived usually with pity…I also noticed they are using the same low-back/round-base wheelchair that is used in sports. This is not the average wheelchair, and usually costs more. I, personally, feel this is not an accurate representation of the organization or what rehabilitation is like.

“Miracles in Motion” is not Mary Free Bed’s first foray into visual storytelling. It has published 38 videos on its Facebook page in the past year.

Ragan readers, how are you using video to promote your facility and reach out to the community?

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